Beauty for Ashes

To all who mourn in Israel, he will give a crown of beauty for ashes,a joyous blessing instead of mourning, festive praise instead of despair. In their righteousness, they will be like great oaks that the Lord has planted for his own glory. Isaiah 61:3

Years ago when I began my walk with Christ, I needed to know something. I needed to know it (what ever it was) was going to be OK. I searched for bible verses that would speak to me and give me peace and comfort me when I needed comforting. Isaiah 61:3 found me.

I was watching a television show and the speaker recited Isaiah 61:3. The verse caused me to sit up and listen intently. I smiled. I felt like God just kicked the bully who tried to hurt me. This verse came along at the perfect time in my life and it reappears like my guardian angel when I need to be reminded of God’s omniscience and omnipresence.

He will give a crown of beauty for ashes. When we think about all the times something happened or is happening to us and in the end we became better human beings for the challenge we face, that is a crown of beauty. Our positive attitudes, smiles, words of encouragement, our inner and outer strength, our obvious healing and our successes are big shiny diamonds in the crown. The definition of ash is something what remains after it is burned. In other words, it is finished. Whatever the ash may be, it is done. You have been delivered and given glory for your troubles.

A joyous blessing instead of mourning. Mourning is heavy and does not give light to the darkness we face in our suffering. Mourning is a personal journey and means different  things to different people. Before the ashes became ashes, they were real people, real situations, and real hopes and promises. Most of them we felt were gifts and blessings from God and a sign of his love for us. When they are taken away or we lose them, we think we the worst, which is a human way of thinking. But the Lord did not promise us worldly things. He did promise us he will always be present. A joyous blessing may not even seem like a joyous blessing when we receive it, but the Lord is on time and never goes back on his word. The sooner we seek him in the midst of the trials and tribulations, the sooner his joyous blessing appears.

Festive praise instead of despair. The Bible gives numerous verses on praise because praise shakes up the enemy and empowers us to be bigger than our circumstances. I think this is the hardest part of Isaiah 61:3 to understand. Who feels like being festive and giving praise when despair is much more comfortable and wins pity even within ourselves. I can tell you from years of practice, praising when you do feel lead to will work wonders on the soul. This is the part where the Lord wants us to be active in the healing process. He wants us to praise him will help us give praise and thanksgiving when we open ourselves up to doing what it takes to get past the ashes. Praise is showing we know how great our Lord is and how much we believe in his wonder-working power. Despair and praise both require thought, so why not praise? I know you can!

In their righteousness, they will be like great oaks that the Lord has planted for his own glory. When we overcome our suffering, we stand tall, not just to the people around us, but also in the eyes of the Lord. Our beauty comes from surviving the ashes in life and emerging with rejoice and full of praise.  Like the great oak tree, we are mighty and respectful and the Lord takes pleasure in seeing His glory in us. It is honorable to be a better and stronger person for having beauty for ashes.